The question on many people’s minds this offseason is who will play tight end this year for the Washington Redskins. To be honest, the carousel of players they have right now really isn’t a bad one. Each player has different strengths that they bring to the field that makes them collectively a pretty strong bunch.
Niles Paul is the latest addition to the pack. Last year he played some snaps at tight end and now Shanford and Son are trying him out permanently at the position. The word coming out of Ashburn right now is that Paul is going to be a big “mismatch” for opposing players. That may be true downfield, some teams LBs may not be able to keep up with him. But the real test for #84 will be his matchup on the line. 60% or more of what these guys do is block, block, block. It will be interesting to see how a 6’1″ TE does muscling up with a defensive end or a linebacker the size of Ryan Kerrigan or Brian Orakpo. He will still likely work on special teams where he has undoubtedly shined. Moving him to the title of “tight end” likely just ensures his name to remain on the roster.
Logan Paulsen hasn’t been hanging on this roster for the past couple of years because of his locks. He’s got decent speed and blocks great. He blocks so great that he’s the reserve offensive lineman for the team (I’m sure his 6’5″ size has a lot to do with that too). Along with this, he’s also made some great clutch catches for this team and has become a bit of the “sleeper” at this position. But the more minutes he gets, the less people will be allowed to glaze over #82 on the roster.
Fred Davis is likely the favorite at this position because of how well he has played. Last year was a breakout year for him, up until the point he was suspended for drug use. Even though he’s lost weight and admits himself that he could use some work on blocking up front, he’s still a big guy with wide receiver speed. These two variables added in with his natural athleticism makes him a bit of a freak at TE, especially when you see opponents struggling to keep up with him in a footrace down the field. The question is not can he play… but rather will he be disciplined enough in his personal life to allow himself the opportunity on the field.
Then you have Captain Chaos who has become the black sheep of the bunch. Many people want to see him stay healthy and have a good year because they know what he’s capable of. Many others would just like to see him cut because they feel his time is up. Looking at the big picture, his health is the number one concern right now. He has proven he can be effective as long as he plays. Last year was an odd year… he had never been injured that much in the past. Before that, he averaged over 70 catches per season. He doesn’t have the speed of Davis or Paul, but over and over again Shanford and Son proclaim him to be the best blocking tight end on the team. So he definitely has strengths that can keep him on the roster. The question is, will his knee allow it.
What do I think? I think all four of these guys stay. They all have qualities that when utilized properly can help this team win. If you have Cooley/Davis on a 2-TE set, we’ve seen how well that works. The same could become of Paulsen/Paul. You never really know until the step on the field to weed out the “unknowns.” Can Cooley stay healthy? I hope so. Can Davis stay clean? I really hope so. Will Paulsen get more minutes? Probably so… Shanford and Son will still say they’re “evaluating talent” so I imagine there will be more. Will Paul have a breakout year? If he can prove he can block up front against guys 4-5″ taller and 50 lbs heavier, sure, why not.
We shall see.
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